I remember the time well. It was 1975 and I was just finished 5th year at school. I was obsessed by music and through a friend my current obsession focussed around the characters of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. In an attempt to stay ahead of that year’s game I bought the new Neil Young album. I’d heard Harvest and bits of the others but I wanted to know what was going on now. I bought ‘Tonight’s The Night.’ To thousands of fans this was the antithesis of everything they wanted to hear in a Neil Young album. They’d been waiting for Harvest 2…and frankly, this was not what was wanted. Stoned, slurred, slow, country...yes (but not that kind) it stretched the fans. My pal Pete had given up on the last but one – Time Fades Away and had certainly not wasted any spare change on On The Beach. He gave me Time Fades Away and I’m grateful to this day as it’s still not available on digital or CD.
So, because I came in where I did, and wanted to love it all – I now count those mid seventies ‘difficult’ albums as some of my favourites. It tool me till many years later to do the same with the eighties ones – but hey everyone has got to find their own way through the Neil humps. What’s certain is that when you do you’ll get a wee reward at the end. He’s coming to Glasgow next week. It’s a disaster for me. Having said NO to a couple of things so I could be there my son’s school – philistines all of them – have called a parents night. I am determined that the business will conclude in time for me to catch the final hour or so.
It will be great to see him again. I’m not a big one for seeing people live millions of times. I’d rather see a variety of artists. I’ve seen Neil twice – once with Crazy Horse at The old Apollo and once with Booker T and the MGs at the SECC. They were both sublime experiences – the first in 1976 changed my life – but that’s another story. I carried this picture on a notebook or two and in my head for years after….
I thought of Neil a lot when I first heard Three Blind Wolves. It’s the warm crunch of the guitars, idiosyncratic phrasing and relaxed view of rock – some songs take a while to get there – that binds them. All of these things are highly commendable in my opinion and I thought we’d celebrate both Neil and Three Blind Wolves this Friday. The latter band will be in Studio One for the last of our live celebrations of Scottish artists. What a month this has been. I get to be in the room and you get to hear some of the best bands around recorded by the cream of the fab BBC Engineers at BBC Scotland. In my opinion these have been some of the most exciting sessions ever.
We’re not going to be shy about introducing some new artists either this week. Get ready for new things from Ralfe Band, Valerie June, Slaid Cleeves and Daniel Meade. Be prepared too to re enjoy Suzy Boguss a lovely new offering from Tom Russell (old friends of the show) and all the usual delights. It all kicks off at five past eight on BBC Radio Scotland.
I feel like I missed something by not really being old enough to appreciate much of the Seventies whilst I lived through it. (I was just shy of being 8 years old when the decade was over!) What it has meant, though, is that I have been able to discover a lot of these albums and artists through their influence upon the next generation of musicians with whose music I have grown up.
As to seeing artists more than once, I do have few exceptions—your good self, of course, the likes of Mary Chapin Carpenter, Shawn Colvin, Martyn Joseph, Placebo (to be very un-AC for a moment) and a handful of others—but I have certainly been embracing new live experiences, too, eking out every opportunity I can whilst I am still in London—just in case I move on. Patty Griffin and Kris Kristofferson are the latest new experiences to be added to the calendar for me as upcoming this summer, whilst at this point The AC has inspired many more over the years. So bring on the music, both new and old—it’s all a fantastic education!
I enjoyed the Neil Young gig and thought some of it bordred in genius. Some of it didnt though and I would have swapped 45minutes of the feedback for a few more tunes! Never mind let the Brucefest begin!